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Scammers using PayPal prepaid debit cards to target businesses

Tuesday - 8/5/2014, 12:11pm  ET

WASHINGTON -- D.C. area business owners should be on the lookout for scammers using prepaid debit cards to steal items.

The Metropolitan Police Department is investigating cases where a PayPal MasterCard prepaid debit card was used to steal from retail stores and restaurants.

The fraudsters are targeting stores that allow the approval of "offline transactions" when a card hasn't been activated, according to a MPD release. The suspects have tricked businesses into thinking the charge has been approved, when in reality there is no money on the card.

After the suspects left, the businesses discovered the charge didn't go through. The businesses then received "chargebacks," or fees, for using the fraudulent cards.

To avoid getting scammed, businesses should not allow offline transaction using PayPal MasterCard Prepaid debit, unless employees contact MasterCard or PayPal to confirm the card is active.

"Merchants who are unsure about the proper way to confirm the validity of any card should refer to the user agreements and handbooks for their credit card processing equipment," MPD said in a news release.

PayPal MasterCard prepaid debit cards display the name "PayPal Customer" along with a 16-digit number and the PayPal logo in the upper left hand corner, MPD says.

MPD did not want to disclose information about which businesses have been targeted so far.

Anyone who has information regarding these crimes should call police at 202-727-9099 or text a tip to 50411. The Metropolitan Police Department currently offers a reward of up to $1,000 to anyone who provides information that leads to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible for a serious crime committed in D.C.

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